Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 243–270 | Cite as

Plinian and co-ignimbrite tephra fall from the

  • Haraldur Sigurdsson
  • Steven Carey


A study of pyroclastic deposits from the 1815 Tambora eruption reveals two distinct phases of activity, i.e., four initial tephra falls followed by generation of pyroclastic flows and the production of major co-ignimbrite ash fall. The first explosive event produced minor ash fall from phreatomagmatic explosions (F-1 layer). The second event was a Plinian eruption (F-2) correlated to the large explosion of 5 April 1815, which produced a column height of 33 km with an eruption rate of 1.1 × 108 kg/s. The third event occurred during the lull in major activity from 5 to 10 April and produced minor ash fall (F-3). The fourth event produced a 43-km-high Plinian eruption column with an eruption rate of 2.8 × 108 kg/s during the climax of activity on 10 April. Although very energetic, the Plinian events were of short duration (2.8 h each) and total erupted volume of the early (F-1 to F-4) fall deposits is only 1.8 km3 (DRE, dense rock equivalent). An abrupt change in style of activity occurred at end of the second Plinian event with onset of pyroclastic flow and surge generation. At least seven pyroclastic flows were generated, which spread over most of the volcano and Sanggar peninsula and entered the ocean. The volume of pyroclastic flow deposits on land is 2.6 km3 DRE. Coastal exposures show that pyroclastic flows entering the sea became highly fines depleted, resulting in mass loss of about 32%, in addition to 8% glass elutriation, as indicated by component fractionation. The subaqueous pyroclastic flows have thus lost about 40% of mass compared to the original erupted mixture. Pyroclastic flows and surges from this phase of the eruption are stratigraphically equivalent to a major ash fall deposit (F-5) present beyond the flow and surge zone at 40 km from the source and in distal areas. The F-5 fall deposit forms a larger proportion of the total tephra fall with increasing distance from source and represents about 80% of the total at a distance of 90 km and 92% of the total tephra fall from the 1815 eruption. The field relations indicate that the 20-km3 (DRE) F-5 deposit is a co-ignimbrite ash fall, generated largely during entrance of pyroclastic flows into the ocean. Based on the observed 40% fines depletion and component fractionation from the flows, the large volume of the F-5 co-ignimbrite ash requires eruption of 50 km3 (DRE, 1.4 × 1014 kg) pyroclastic flows.


Tephra Pyroclastic Flow Fall Deposit Component Fractionation Eruption Rate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haraldur Sigurdsson
    • 1
  • Steven Carey
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of OceanographyUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA

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